Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Water Grand Canyon River Trips (Events Around Arizona)

This is the cat's meow as far as Southwestern river trips are concerned, offering adventure, exploration, and discovery. You travel though time on this stretch of the Colorado River, back a billion or so years into prehistory. You can touch and climb rocks millions of years old and visit prehistoric Indian sites. Watch for the wildlife such as bighorn sheep, deer, birds, and reptiles, along with contrasts in vegetation, from desert cacti on precipitous canyon slopes to cottonwoods and thirsty ferns near waterfalls. Retrace the steps of explorers and challenge the rapids.

Just about all the arizona vacation experts agree that the best times of year for the Grand Canyon are April, May, September and October. Be aware that on partial canyon trips, put-in or take-out will require hiking a 5,000-foot-deep trail. Sometimes arrangements can be made for mule-back transportation and there are several guided trips offering helicopter transportation. To facilitate cooperative scheduling, arrangements should be made through your outfitter

Only concessionaires licensed by the National Park Service are allowed to run trips through the canyon. A number of tour operators offer Grand Canyon trips, but these are operated through licensed arizona lodging experts.

It probably pays to shop around for the trip that best suits your interests. Outfitted trips are run in paddle- or oar-powered rafts, motorized rafts, and wooden dories. Their duration ranges from day-trips to three-week expeditions.

The main boat launching area for Grand Canyon river trips is at Lees Ferry, northeast of the National Park. The boat ramp there also provides access to the trophy rainbow trout fishing waters between Lees Ferry and the Glen Canyon Dam.

events around arizona

For additional information or reservations for any Grand Canyon river trips, contact the River Subdistrict Office, Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.

Rivers & Oceans, PO Box 40321, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Tel. 520/525-4575 520/525-4575 or 800/473-4576 800/473-4576 , is also a central reservation office for Grand Canyon river trips.

For experienced river runners, it is possible to create your own private river trip through the canyon, but start planning early. There is quite a bit of Park Service bureaucracy to wade through for the appropriate permit, and the current wait for private permits is six to eight years. For information, phone the River Permits office, Tel. 520/638-7843 520/638-7843 .

The following outfitters offer a variety of river running options through the Grand Canyon:

O.A.R.S. Inc., Box 67, Angel's Camp, CA 95222, 209/736-4677 209/736-4677 , fax 209/736-2902, runs five- to 15-day river trips from April to October in wooden dories, oar-powered rafts, paddle-boats, or inflatable kayaks.

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, PO Box 57575, Salt Lake City, UT 84157-0575, Tel. 801/261-1789 801/261-1789 or 800/253-7328 800/253-7328 , fax 801/268-1193, offers rowing through the canyon in April or August and motorized trips of four, six, or nine days from May to September. All trips include opportunities for off-river hiking explorations.

ARAs Wilderness River Adventures, PO Box 717, Page, AZ 86040, Tel. 520/645-3296 520/645-3296 or 800/992-8022 800/992-8022 , offers motorized and oar-powered trips through the canyon. Itineraries include four- or six-day trips from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch, five or seven days from Phantom Ranch to Bar 10 Ranch, or seven or 14 days from Lees Ferry to Bar 10 Ranch. Also available are one-day float trips from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. Customized trips and charters are also offered.

Arizona Raft Adventures, 4050 East Huntington Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Tel. 520/526-8200 520/526-8200 or 800/786-7238 800/786-7238 , fax 520/526-8246, runs river trips with participant involvement in rowing and paddling. The trips include hiking, swimming the small rapids, helping in the kitchen, learning the natural history, or flat-out relaxing; you can do as much or as little as you want. Trips scheduled from April to October begin and end in Flagstaff and include eight-day itineraries in motorized rafts, or six- to 14-day trips with a choice of vessels.

Special interest excursions include a Natural History Lab trip, emphasizing geology, origins, botany, climate, and environmental impacts of the Glen Canyon Dam. Also offered are professional seminars and psychologist-led outdoor retreats. Two- to six-day trips are offered from April to September on the San Juan River in Utah. Customized special interest trips may be arranged for groups of 16 or more.

Grand Canyon Dories, PO Box 216, Altaville, CA 95221, 209/736-0805 209/736-0805 , runs river trips in dories, a compartmentalized, rough-water, motorless boat made of aluminum, fiberglass, or marine plywood. These vessels ride higher and drier than rafts, don't bend or buckle in the waves, and don't get soft when it's cold. A guide travels in each boat, but you can take the oars and learn to run the rapids. Another option is to test your skill in a two-person inflatable kayak.

Groups are limited to a maximum of 20 people per trip. If you're seeking a longer, slower, quieter voyage, as compared with other Grand Canyon river trips, with time to observe, understand and savor the canyon from the water and the land, this is for you. A 277-mile trip takes 16 days. Five- to 11-day trips are also offered from Lees Ferry or Phantom Ranch. You do need to hike in or out of the canyon or arrange for mule-back transportation to participate on a shorter trip. Full-length trips start and end in Flagstaff. Also available: Grand Canyon rafting trips of six, eight or 13 days; six-day trips in June through Desolation and Gray Canyons on the Green River; nine-day trips in June on the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park; eight-day trips on the San Juan River in May or June.

A 47-day trip retracing the complete voyage of John Wesley Powell is offered from Green River, Wyoming to the Virgin River arm of Lake Mead, in Nevada. The Powell trip is divided into four portions of eight, 10, 12 and 17 days that may be taken separately.

Grand Canyon Expeditions, PO Box 0, Kanab, UT 87471, Tel. 801/644-2691 801/644-2691 or 800/544-2691 800/544-2691 , fax 801/644-2699, runs the entire 277-mile length of the Grand Canyon from April to September on eight-day motorized or 14-day oar-powered dory and raft trips. Trips emphasize comfort and safety in negotiating nearly 200 rapids while passing through one of the earth's most spectacular geological exhibits. They've had 25 years to perfect their skills while running specialized trips for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Institution, and Cinemax, among others. Scheduled special interest trips highlight canyon history, geology, photography, ecology, archaeology, and astronomy. Trips include round-trip transportation from Las Vegas, sleeping bags and pads, ground cloth and rain shelter, waterproof river bags for sleeping gear, cameras and personal items, all meals on the river, cold beer, soft drinks, wine or champagne with evening meals, and ice is available throughout the trip. Customized charters are available.

Outdoors Unlimited, 6900 Townsend-Winona Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Tel. 520/525-9834 520/525-9834 or 800/637-7238 800/637-7238 , runs trips from May to October in oar- or paddle-powered boats that hold five to six passengers and a guide. Itineraries include 12-day trips from Lees Ferry to Lake Mead, five-day trips from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch, and eight-day trips from Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead. Trips starting at Lees Ferry include overnight accommodations at Marble Canyon. Trips ending at Lake Mead include shuttle service to Las Vegas.

Western River Expeditions, 7258 Racquet Club Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84121, Tel. 801/942-6669 801/942-6669 or 800/453-7450 800/453-7450 , fax 801/942-8514, offers six-day motorized trips through the Upper Grand Canyon, or three- and four-day trips in the Lower Grand Canyon, including helicopter transfers to or from the Colorado River below Lava Falls. Once a year they run a 12-day rowing trip. Trips are scheduled May to September.

Museum of Northern Arizona Ventures, Route 4, Box 720, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, Tel. 520/774-5211 520/774-5211 , runs Grand Canyon rafting trips.

American River Touring Association, 24000 Casa Loma Road, Groveland, CA 95321, 209/962-7873 209/962-7873 or 800/323-2782 800/323-2782 , runs six-to 13-day Grand Canyon raft trips.

Arizona River Runners, Box 47788, Phoenix, AZ 85068-7788, 602/867-4866 602/867-4866 or 800/477-7238 800/477-7238 , runs three- to eight-day Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Canyoneers, Inc., Box 2997, Flagstaff, AZ 86003, Tel. 520/526-0924 520/526-0924 or 800/525-0924 800/525-0924 , runs two- to 14-day Grand Canyon trips in motorized rafts or rowboats. Seven-day, six-night trips in powered pontoon boats cover the whole 277 miles from Lees Ferry to Pierce Ferry. Two-day, two-night trips in the same motorized vessels cover 89 miles from Lees Ferry to Bright Angel Beach, near Phantom Ranch. A 14-day, 13-night paddle-powered trip covers 225 miles from Lees Ferry to Pierce Ferry and includes round-trip transportation from Flagstaff.

Canyoneers also operates the Kaibab Lodge on AZ 67 north of the North Rim. Among a variety of tours they offer are winter cross-country ski trips.

Canyon Explorations, Box 310, Flagstaff, AZ 86002, 800/654-0723 800/654-0723 , runs six- to 15-day Grand Canyon raft trips.

Diamond River Adventures, Box 1316, Page, AZ 86040, Tel. 520/645-8866 520/645-8866 or 800/343-3121 800/343-3121 , runs four- to 12-day motorized and oar-powered river trips through the Grand Canyon.

Expeditions, Inc., RR 4, Box 755, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, Tel. 520/774-8176 520/774-8176 or Tel. 602/779-3769 602/779-3769 , runs five- to 18-day Grand Canyon river trips. Five- to six-day trips cover 87 miles and entail a nine-mile hike out of the canyon at the end. Eight- to nine-day trips cover the second portion of the Grand Canyon for 139 miles and require a seven-mile hike to the put-in spot. Twelve- to 18-day trips cover 226 miles on the river

Trips are in oar-powered rafts with options available for those who prefer paddle boats or kayaks. All trips include leisure time and hiking time for exploring side canyons. Also included is transportation from Flagstaff to Lees Ferry or the Grand Canyon, depending on the put-in point. Return transportation from Diamond Creek is provided at the end of the full Grand Canyon trip to Flagstaff. All trips include a sleeping bag and foam pad, vehicle and valuables storage at a Flagstaff warehouse, all meals, plus hotel and motel pick-up in Flagstaff.

Complete outfitting services, tent and pack rentals, and shuttle services for vehicles to the South Rim or Diamond Creek are available. Customized trips for special interests, such as kayaking clinics, management training seminars, art and photography workshops, and experiential education programs are also offered.

Georgia's Royal River Rats, Box 12057, Las Vegas, NV 89112, 702/798-0602 702/798-0602 , runs three- to eight-day Grand Canyon river trips.

Moki Mac River Expeditions, Box 21242, Salt Lake City, UT 84121, Tel. 801/268-6667 801/268-6667 or 800/268-6667 800/268-6667 , runs six- to 14-day Grand Canyon oar-powered raft trips, or eight-day motorized raft trips.

Sleight Expeditions, Box 40, St. George, UT 84770, Tel. 801/673-1200 801/673-1200 , offers five- to 12-day Grand Canyon raft trips.

Ted Hatch River Expeditions, Box 1200, Vernal, UT 84078, 801/789-3813 801/789-3813 , or 800/433-8966 800/433-8966 , offers seven-day Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Tours West, Inc., Box 333, Orem, UT 84059, Tel. 801/225-0755 801/225-0755 or 800/453-9107 800/453-9107 , offers three- to 12-day Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Wild & Scenic, Inc., Box 460, Flagstaff, AZ 86002, Tel. 520/774-7343 520/774-7343 , or 800/231-1963 800/231-1963 , runs trips of a half-day to 13 days in rafts or sportyaks on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Hualapai Tribal River Trips & Tours, PO Box 246, Peach Springs, AZ 84634, Tel. 520/769-2219 520/769-2219 or Tel. 602/769-2210 602/769-2210 , runs one-or two-day raft trips from Diamond Creek on the Colorado to Pearce Ferry on Lake Mead. Two-day trips include one day of rapids.

If the number of rafting tour operators on the Grand Canyon seems daunting, a one-stop free booking service known as River Travel Center, 800/882-RAFT, represents 16 Grand Canyon river outfitters with three- to 18-day itineraries in oar, paddle or motor rafts. The service can provide information, brochures and confirm reservations for a variety of departure dates. Also available: Utah river trips.

The national park's River Permit Office (520/638-7843 520/638-7843 ) can provide a complete list of licensed river concessionaires.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smart Investors Hire Attorneys Before Buying in Mexico

Beachfront property and investment opportunities continue drawing American real estate buyers, mining companies and utility firms to Mexico.

But novices, unaware of local business practices and pitfalls, run the risk of getting caught up in a bad deal or a legal tangle.

Smart investors hire an attorney to review the soundness of a transaction before signing on the dotted line. Now, a cross-border company is helping businesses and individuals navigate their way -- legally -- through Mexican ventures.

"Nobody is looking out for the buyer (or investor) here in Mexico," said John C. Buette, END OF PAGE president of Icon Land Services Inc., which has offices in Tucson and Hermosillo. "We're trying to take care of the buyer."

Icon bills itself as an "intercontinental property acquisitions and marketing" firm that specializes in serving mining, comunications and utility companies seeking to operate in Mexico. Real estate transactions for individual homeowners and commercial clients is another specialty.

Buette, whose background is in negotiating land agreements for mining companies, manages the Tucson office. His partner, Ernesto Elias Elizondo, a bilingual Mexican attorney experienced in serving for eign clients in commercial and real estate transactions, runs the Hermosillo office.

Recently, Elias was hired by a group of Americans with vacation homes in the playa encanto real estate in las conchas rocky point to help them secure legal property rights.

Some of the homeowners "had been trying for 20 years to get land rights" only to find themselves mired in legal disputes and bureaucratic obstacles, said Al Ciasca, a Tucson resident who is the Playa Encanto Homeowners Association president. "Ernesto Elias made it possible for us to get through all the red tape."

Icon performed the tasks required for each homeowner to obtain a bank trust, the legal agreements that allows non-Mexican citizens to hold encanto beach front property in Mexico.

"I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to do this. They are qualified and geared up to provide the service," Ciasca said.

According to Buette, it's frustration with a lack of understanding of the Mexican way of doing business that leads many clients to Icon.

"There's a lot of people closing deals without doing 80 percent of what needs to be done and then they get into a mess and end up calling an attorney to say `fix this,' " he said.

Ideally, Icon hopes clients will seek their services at the outset.

Teck Resources, a U.S. subsidiary of a large Canadian mining company, has begun relying on Icon to secure the permits needed to extract precious metals and minerals from several mines in northern Mexico.

"Everything is done according to U.S. or Canadian standards as opposed to hit or miss with no follow through," said John Lunceford, regional manager for Teckin Northern Mexico. By working through Icon, Teck Resources found there was "not a lot of wasted time, effort and money."

The services offered by Icon cover a wide spectrum including setting up corporations, title searches, property appraisals, negotiating land rights, surveying property, digital mapping, aerial photography, acquiring enviromental permits and water rights.

Beyond the technological and legal services, Icon principals also help bridge the cultural gap between their clients and Mexican partners or officials.

Meetings with clients can be conducted in English or Spanish, as the client prefers, and copies of contracts and key documents translated into English are also offered.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Should Every Day Be Dress Down #3

When Paine conceived The Delahaye Group 10 years ago, she wanted to include the good features of all the places she'd worked. One of these was the dress code -- or more precisely, the lack of one. She doesn't need a dress-down Friday. At Delahaye, it's dress-down all year long.

Delahaye is a reputation-measuring company. "We provide quantitative and qualitative research around corporate reputations. We measure the effects of what PR agencies do. The short version is that we're image consultants."

Paine's policy, in an overnight bag: "We wear whatever we can be most productive in. For some, that's a dress or suit, and for others it might he shorts and a T-shirt."

Paine expects her staffers to use their judgment, and, she says, they do. "When we know there's a client coming in, it's dress-up day." But there isn't a lot of drop-in trade at Delahaye. "We usually know when a client is coming."

So far, no one has taken advantage of Paine's laissez-faire policy. She credits employees' common sense. "It's downtown Portsmouth -- nobody is going to show up in a bikini. But we're all grown-ups here. If someone was inappropriately dressed for a business meeting off-site, I might say something. But it hasn't happened."

Delahaye now has 52 staffers in-house. Most opt for comfort, and outfits range from business casual to jeans and sweats. "Five or six still dress up, and they're all women. The guys are more casual," she says.

Banks and other financial institutions are Delahaye's polar opposite. Maureen Donovan, human resources director for Bank of NH, Manchester, says the company has a dress code, and it's dressier than most.

"We still prefer the more formal business attire," Donovan says. This means skirt suits for women, or possibly an upscale pantsuit. Men must wear ties and jackets when in the public eye; in the privacy of their offices, they can ditch the jacket, but the tie stays.

There is no regular "dress-down Friday." Staff members may dress in casual clothes occasionally, for special promotions or holidays. But formal is normal for the 85 employees in the bank's main Manchester office.

Donovan adds, though, that even bank attire has changed with the times. "It hasn't changed dramatically, but what's acceptable has loosened up a little."

For example, women don't have to wear suits all the time. What is Donovan wearing? She practices what she preaches.

"Today I'm in a dressy dress, with a jacket and scarf."

Other companies also prefer the older formal style of dress. Steve Griffin, vice-president of Isaacson Steel in Berlin, says his company opts for traditional business attire four days a week. "The account and administrative departments meet with the public every day. It's expected."

He and the other male staffers wear coats and ties; for the women, skirts are in order.

But Isaacson's staff can romp through a casual day every Friday. It's corporate casual, which means no jeans. "I get to take the tie off," Griffin says. "It's not as stuffy, but it's not grubby, either."

"Casual Friday" came into being in June 1995. "The president and I got tired of wearing ties. There was a `stuffiness cloud' over our heads."

Isaacson's professionals try to schedule client meetings Monday through Thursday, and save Friday for a catch-up day. It's Thursday afternoon, and Griffin is wearing a white shirt, blue slacks and a blue "teardrop" tie. "There's a sport coat on my coat rack."

Will "business casual" replace traditional business dress? Griffin enjoys it, but he hopes not. "The `uniform' of the '70s went too far. Everybody looked like a banker. But if you dress too casually, your mind-set will be too casual toward your work. For some reason, I have to have a coat and tie on most of the time. It's something between my ears, I guess."

But PSNN's Murray believes business casual represents a "loosening up of society, of how we communicate. A shirt and tie doesn't necessarily demonstrate your expertise and abilities. But an appropriate level of dress is a reflection of the company in the eyes of the customer."

Whatever your sartorial style, there's a company out there for you. And if it's an unstructured dress policy, like Paine's, there's an unexpected side benefit. "You can tell when people come to the last of their clean laundry," Paine says. "The fancier clothes are all they have left."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Should Every Day Be Dress Down #2

Forbidden footwear includes sandals, flip flops, clogs, athletic shoes of any kind, work boots or hiking boots. Casual walking shoes and flat shoes/loafers are acceptable.

What is he wearing on a September Monday? "Oxford comfort shoes, navy blue slacks, a striped Oxford shirt" and no tie.

"Casual dress days" are becoming quite prevalent around the Granite State, according to a recent survey by the NH affiliate of the National Human Resources Association. Of the companies responding to the survey (mostly manufacturing/distribution firms) 83 percent have designated casual days, although only about one-third have a written policy. Just over 80 percent permitted denim jeans at work, and all permitted open-toed shoes in areas where safety is not a concern.

Business casual is also the year-round policy at Public Service of New Hampshire, according to Martin Murray, a spokesman from the Manchester headquarters. PSNH follows the dress code of its Connecticut parent company, Northeast Utilities.

PSNH formerly had a "casual Friday" and dressed up the rest of the week. One summer the company tried the casual mode day-by-day. After Labor Day, Murray says, a corporate decision was made to keep "casual" 12 months a year.

But the policy isn't as detailed as Associated Grocers'. "The employee is asked to use his/her best judgment to select appropriate attire for his or her job," Murray says. However, "it's strongly suggested that jeans, shorts, T-shirts and sneakers are not appropriate. But the onus is on the employee."

Murray cites two of those advantages. First, casual business dress is less expensive than traditional office wear. "I know I kept one dry cleaner in business by myself. Now my dry cleaning bill has gone down."

And people have told him they're more comfortable in the casual attire, and this makes it easier for them to do their jobs.

What is Murray wearing as he talks to a visitor? "I have on a golf shirt and pants -- I think they're Dockers, but I can't see the label. They're not khakis, because they're black. And my comfortable dress shoes are interesting --they're those lace-up things from Timberland. They're like a short boot."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Should Every Day Be Dress Down #1

The Do's and Dont's of business fashion are changing.

Robert Molloy was very clear in the first edition of his bestseller "Dress for Success." Never wear brown. Women should wear suits, not dresses, and certainly not pants. Forget dangling earrings, colored nail polish and colored nylons. Men with an eye for the fast track should only wear blue, light gray or charcoal gray suits. No one ever heard of corporate casual.

Now the dress debate is not suit versus sports coat, but how far down is "dress down"?

When Katharine Delahaye Paine, owner of The Delahaye Group, Portsmouth, worked in California's Silicon Valley, she found "casual dress" took on a new meaning. "My ax-husband was actually asked to wear ties less often. It's much less formal than the East Coast."

But the East is catching up. When Molloy wrote his first primer in the 1970s, many professionals scrambled to acquire the "correct" office look for the upward climb. But the robot look eventually lost its charm, and now '90s companies are striving to find a middle ground between comfort and the image they hope to present.

Norm Turcotte, CEO of Associated Grocers, Manchester, chuckles a bit when asked about his company's experience with "dress down" Fridays. "The results were, by and large, pretty good ... with some notable exceptions" because some employees' definitions of dress down were "vastly different" than others.

Rather than scrap the whole dress down idea, however, an employee committee recommended a policy of "business casual" all year round --and the dress down days were dropped.

AG's 150 office workers now have a detailed five-page dress code to guide them as they shop for work attire. On the "do" list: polo shirts, Oxford shirts, sweaters/cardigans, blazers/sport coats, casual pants such as Dockers, business skirts no shorter than four inches above the knee, and tailored dress shorts for women, worn with tights or nylons. Ties are optional.

On the "don't" list: T-shirts, flannel shirts, sweatshirts and tank tops unless covered. Stirrup pants and leggings are out, and shorts for men are verboten. Denim of any sort, top or bottom, has been relegated to home and garden to Turcotte's dismay, who laments that he can't wear his favorite Ralph Lauren denim shirt to the office.

The "denim issue" apparently generated heated discussion among the committee members. But, while he wishes he could work in his favorite shirt, Turcotte says the committee pondered the wide variety of denim clothing today -- from pricey, tailored designer jeans to someone's favorite well-worn holey relics from college -- and decided to nix the whole fabric. And he agrees.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Left Brain, Right Brain. Game Review

A better title, "Left Handed, Right Handed", this unusual title asks you to compare the fine motor abilities of your left and right hands, by doing identical tasks with both, and then comparing the scores. To put it another way, it measures your ambidexterity. To play the game, you turn the Nintendo DS on its side, book style, to test your ambidexterity -- in other words, the fine motor skills that you have in your right hand vs. your left hand. Note that this isn't a game per se. Like Brain Age, it is more of a collection of fine motor drills -- some fun and some more like work.

There are 15 mini-games that start with asking you to touch a moving box, first with one hand, and then the other (you turn the DS 180 degrees). After you do the same task with both hands, the computer tells you your percent correct on both sides of your body.

The idea is that you can work to exercise your least dominant hand in order to become stronger. Other activities ask you to connect dots, flick moving asteroids from hitting the Earth, play a game of whack-a-mole, and move a dot through a maze. This latter activity replays your prior performance, and challenges to you beat yourself. Or, you can race against another player using the DS wireless play mode. So does it work? If nothing else, it is an interesting example of creative design, measurement and assessment, using the DS pen based interface. Note that reading is required. Records for up to four people can be saved on the cartridge. Created by Japan Art Media for Majesco.

Link to buy Left Brain, Right Brain Game

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Game Review

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga GameNow available on a variety of platforms, the game console version of LEGO Star Wars offers one of the finest two-player experiences to date. Don't be fooled by the E 10+ rating -- even children as young as five can play the game -- although it helps if they're paired with an older brother, sister or parent. It features a unique interaction style called “drop in, drop out cooperative mode.”

This edition contains content from 160 LEGO Star Wars characters, with content from all the movies. There's a variety of problem solving opportunities in the 36 unlockable levels. Unlike most games where players compete, this game goes out of the way to create a cooperative problem solving setting. Because each Star Wars character has different abilities, working together is mandatory to getting through the game to solve the puzzles and unlock all 160 characters. It’s like you and a friend exploring a dark cave, but your friend has the only flashlight. Discussion is mandatory.

So what if your friend has to go? The computer’s AI sniffs that nothing is happening with the other controller, and takes over in autopilot mode, so it is possible to continue to play by yourself. At any time, a new player can pick up the controller, and join the game.

This game was developed by Giant Software/Traveller’s Tales (both of the UK), and is distributed in the US by LucasArts. The DS version has a different design. Created for LucasArts by the UK-based Traveller’s Tales.

Link to buy LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Game

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Portable, Remote Technology Aids Escape from Arizona's Summer Heat

As reported vacation rentals in Arizona, portable computers, high-speed modems and fax machines make it possible for Valley residents to get out of the sweltering heat and telecommute from their second homes or arizona vacation rentals in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Greer or Pinetop.

It's amazing how much work you can get done without all the interruptions, said Tom Lewis, president of T.W. Lewis Co. Lewis often runs his Tempe home-building business from the den of his Forest Highlands home eight miles southwest of Flagstaff.

"I'm not a modem cowboy," he said, "and I basically come here to relax and get away from work. But I always take a laptop with me and plan on doing some work," he said.

He's not alone. The Forest Highlands community and country club is a haven for Phoenix business people during the summer, and many of them are working in between rounds of golf and hikes in the woods.

Tom Smyth regularly telecommutes from his Forest Highlands home with his office at Scottsdale's Independent Newspapers Inc.

"I see more Phoenix people that I know at Forest Highlands than I do in Phoenix," Lewis added.

R.L. Brown runs his Phoenix-area real estate consulting business from his home in Munds Park, 20 miles south of Flagstaff.

Brown and his wife, Joann, have never regretted moving their business permanently to the pines in 1991. While they work regular hours inside their 3,800-square-foot home, they often take a break at lunch and go for a hike or, in the winter, a cross-country ski trek.

At first they worried they might lose touch with the Phoenix market and their customer base. But that wasn't the case.

"We never lost a customer," R.L. Brown said.

A Phoenix phone line lets customers reach the business with a local call, and a computer network allows the Browns' computers in Munds Park to communicate with those at employees' homes in the Valley.

Brown also spends about two days a week in the Phoenix area, flying into Deer Valley in the morning and back to Munds Park at night.

For heat-weary Phoenicians who aren't into telecommuting, there are hundreds of summer jobs available in the north country. Hotels and restaurants generally hire extra help in the spring.

The Little America Hotel, which employs about 300 people, usually adds employees in the spring when it gears up for its busy season, which can run through October. The hotel doesn't lay off people during the slow season. Instead it doesn't replace, untilspring, those employees who leave during the winter, especially when it starts to snow.

The U.S. Forest Service also hires summer help. Darla Flores, the Forest Service's personnel management specialist in Flagstaff, said the agency typically has about 250 seasonal openings for firefighters, tourist information workers and maintenance personnel.

The positions are in Tonto, Prescott, Coconino and Kaibab national forests and usually last four to five months. Pay ranges from $7.35 to $9.02 per hour. The agency typically advertises the openings in mid-December and can receive more than 2,000 applications.

arizona vacation homes

Thursday, July 26, 2007

9 Great Family Getaways


Bike along Connemara's white-sand beaches, tour the ruins of a 17th-century fort, and see a falconry demonstration. There's also storytelling and dance performances for the kids, whiskey tasting and golfing for the adults, and sing-a-longs for all in the pubs. July 30-Aug. 4; $5,996; includes all meals, lodging, equipment and admission to events. Minimum age: 8. butterfield.com


Cycle on car-free bike paths, pedal past rolling farmland and build sand castles at Katama Beach. Highlights include a sunset cruise on Nantucket Harbor and visits to the Black Dog Bakery. July 22-26; $1,980; includes meals, lodging at historic inns and bike rental. Minimum age: 6. bikeriderstours.com


After a day of cycling through forests, orchards and sunflower fields, retreat to a chateau. Kids can try ropes courses, horseback riding and fencing, and adults can enjoy a wine tasting and a sumptuous dinner. July 29-Aug. 4; $5,495; includes lodging, concierge services, most meals, all wine and bike rental. Minimum age: 5. butterfield.com


Cycle past dude ranches, ride a gondola and take a dip in natural hot springs. Pizza parties for kids, candlelight dinners for adults. Aug. 12-17; $2,198/$1,758 (under 15); includes all meals, lodging, bike equipment, and all taxes. Minimum age: 7. austin-lehman.com


Cycle past windmills, tulip fields and beaches, then board a houseboat, which takes you to the start of the next day's journey while you sleep. Aug. 18-Sept. 1; $867; includes meals, bike rental and lodging. All ages. cycletours.com


Pedal past lighthouses, visit a colony of seals or go to an old-fashioned amusement park. Aug. 5-10; $2,798-$3,098; includes all meals, lodging, bike equipment and trail-a-bikes. Minimum age: 3 to attend, 6 to ride own bike. backroads.com


Visit Northern California's most remote beaches, bike along the Coastal Trail--closed to cars--and see the Redwood Forest's 350-foot trees. Tours from mid-June to mid-Aug.; $975/$875 (under 14); includes meals, excursions and camp gear. Extra: Bike equipment and sleeping-bag rental. All ages. westernspirit.com


Between ferry rides, crafts and visits to a whale museum, bike on nearly traffic-free roads. Aug. 5-9; $1,358, with kid discounts available; includes meals and camping equipment. Extra: Bike rental. All ages; minimum age for kayaking: 6. bicycleadventures.com


Canyonlands National Park offers some of the best mountain biking in the United States. This trip is timed for spring break, and is structured so you and your teen can enjoy biking down switchbacks together or with your individual peer groups. April 2008; $865/$764 (under 14); includes all meals, excursions and camp equipment. Extra: Bike equipment and sleeping-bag rental. westernspirit.com

By Jennifer Mack

Friday, July 20, 2007

6 ways to tone up, trim down, and get some Me Time, too.

We've rounded up and tested out six sensational get-moving destinations--some far-flung, some close to home--to help you get a jump-start on fitness. So whether you're on a budget or set for a splurge, turn the page and get ready to have a great time getting fit.

Get a boot-camp boost

Splurge: If you want a fitness jump-start that burns a ton of calories, there's nothing better than a boot camp. Put some exotic spice into your basic training at Amansala Eco Chic Resort's Bikini Boot Camp in Tulum, Mexico (a 2-hour drive south of Cancun). Your daily power walk won't be around the block--it'll be through the Yucatan jungle. In the morning, your body-sculpting class will be on the beach. In the afternoon, you'll bike to a freshwater swimming hole. And your cross-training will be flamenco and salsa dance lessons. A week in a beachfront cabana won't hurt either. Six-night boot camp ($1,842 per person, double occupancy) includes accommodations, meals, fitness classes, kayaking, two bike excursions, and three spa services.

On a budget: Get the boot camp experience closer to home with classes at a local gym. National-chain clubs Equinox Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness, for example, have several cool camps to choose from. Get all wet at Equinox's Aqua Boot Camp and bikini ready in its Boot Camp Intervals class.

Stretch out

Splurge: At the Aspen Club and Spa in Aspen, Colorado, your own wellness guru will create a 1- to 3-day getaway that includes a daily dose of two private yoga or Pilates sessions, lunch at the spa, and an 80-minute spa treatment. Offered year-round, the $450-per-day rate doesn't include lodging, but the spa is a short walk from several downtown Aspen hotels.

On a budget: Many yoga centers offer free or reduced-price, first-time classes, and many Pilates instructors will give you an introductory session gratis. To find yoga classes close to home. For local Pilates classes, see www.gympost.com.

Take a hike

Splurge: Put hiking center-stage at Jimmy LeSage's New Life Hiking Spa. Take a low-key ramble along country roads or a climb up one of Vermont's highest peaks in the Green Mountains. To fill out your day, try a before-breakfast stretch class, an afternoon core-training or yoga class, and an evening massage or facial. New Life's 2- to 4-day Mini Vacation ($229 per person per night, double occupancy) in the charming Inn of the Six Mountains in Killington includes all meals and fitness activities, plus one massage or facial per 3-night stay.

On a budget: Keep your trek local by using www.trails.com. Take advantage of its free 14-day trial to find reviews of more than 30,000 trails nationwide, along with all the information you'll need to get out there (including maps and campground sites, if you're planning an overnight). Start at the site's "Top 100 Trails" for inspiration, and you'll be lacing up your lightweight hikers in no time.

By Tracey Minkin

Monday, June 11, 2007

A trip to Antarctica reveals some completely new life under the ice

The icebreaker Polarstern arrived in Antarctica last December packed with 52 scientists and a remotely operated submersible called Cherokee. The mission: to survey the ocean life under the former Larsen B ice shelf, the 720-billion-ton mass of ice that disintegrated in 2002. After 17 dives as deep as 2,800 feet by Cherokee, the scientists had observed approximately 1,000 marine species, many of them recent arrivals to the newly uncovered ecosystem and some completely new to science. "The only species that were able to make a living under that much ice were those typically found in the deep sea," says Terry Collins of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life. "They're still there, but you can see the signs of colonizing species as well." The trip was the first of 14 Antarctic voyages aiming to document how climate change is affecting the poles.

By Kalee Thompson